Last Updated: Friday, 24 November 2017, 11:39 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2003 - Djibouti

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 1 June 2003
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2003 - Djibouti , 1 June 2003, available at: [accessed 25 November 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Nearly 23,000 refugees lived in Djibouti at year's end, including some 21,000 from Somalia and nearly 2,000 from Ethiopia.

Thousands of undocumented and uncounted asylum seekers from various African countries resided in urban areas.

Refugees from Somalia

Most Somali refugees in Djibouti arrived during 1988–90 as a result of civil war in Somalia.

The majority of refugees who remained in Djibouti at the end of 2002 originated from northern Somalia, the self-declared independent territory of "Somaliland." Most resided in two remote camps near Djibouti's borders with Somalia and Ethiopia. More than 11,000 lived in Ali Adde camp and nearly 10,000 in Holl Holl camp.

During 2002, authorities of Djibouti, Somaliland, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) broke a three-year impasse and negotiated terms for the repatriation of Somali refugees from Djibouti. "This is another milestone in enabling refugees, who have spent years in exile, to take part in reconstruction and peace-building at home," a UNHCR representative noted.

By mid-year, some 15,000 Somali refugees registered with UNHCR to repatriate to Somaliland. Fewer than 3,000 refugees returned to Somaliland by year's end, however. UNHCR suspended the repatriation operation in October because of harsh weather conditions and funding constraints.

UNHCR provided returnee families with water containers, basic kitchen essentials, blankets, and plastic sheeting. Returnees also received a nine-month food supply from the World Food Program (WFP).

Increased violence and a reduction in refugees' food rations exacerbated already difficult living conditions in the Ali Adde and Holl Holl camps.

Funding constraints forced WFP to cut overall food rations by 50 percent much of the year, negatively affecting the nutritional status of refugees. A special funding appeal enabled WFP to restore full rations by year's end.

Refugees from Ethiopia

Nearly 2,000 Ethiopian refugees lived in Djibouti at year's end.

They lived under the care of UNHCR in Ali Adde camp and were the only refugees remaining of nearly 40,000 Ethiopians who had fled to Djibouti more than a decade earlier to escape civil war; most repatriated during 1994–96 after Ethiopia's war ended.

Approximately 50 Ethiopian university students who fled violent clashes with Ethiopian security forces during 2001 in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, also resided in Ali Adde during 2002.

For the second consecutive year, the Djibouti government's Organization of National Affairs for Refugees denied the students refugee status.

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